I am asking myself whether I need more than one ND filter for my desired areas of application, which are:

  1. portrait photography in (very) sunny environments (no wedding etc.; basically familiy shootings during our holidays)
  2. landscape photography
  3. softening the appearance of water (sea, river, waterfalls)
  4. architecture photography
  5. sunset and orbital photography (star trails)

and where the shooting could be at any time of the day.

I already own a Hoya hd circular polarizer that loses around 1 stop of light. However, I am quite sure that I will need at least a 10 stop filter for orbital photography. Am I correct?

If yes, would recommend to buy even more ND filters (which ones?) for the remaining areas of application or can these also be covered using the circular polarizer together with the 10-stop filter?

Thanks a lot for your suggestions!


2 Answers 2


When you say "orbital photography", do you mean night skies / astrophotography? You won't need any ND filter for that.

You may want a multi-stop filter for softening water.

You are unlikely to need one for portrait photography.

For landscape and sunset photography, you might find a (or several) ND grad filters useful.

A 10 stop might be useful for architecture photography- one use might be to use a very long exposure to "remove" people from the shot.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for your answer. In this context, with orbital photography I meant to photograph star trails. For that, I thought a 10-stop filter is a must. But a 10-stop filter might not be applicable for portrait photography (on very sunny days) because it blocks too much light. Therefore I thought, I need to buy one more ND filter (or use the circular polarizer instead?). \$\endgroup\$
    – Rickson
    Feb 18, 2017 at 14:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ You don't really need an ND filter for star trails because as the stars shift in the field of view their time over any specific pixel(s) is limited by the movement of the stars relative to the camera. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Feb 18, 2017 at 15:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ A ND filter can be handy for portrait photography, specially when you want to make pictures in back light with a flash to brighten up the model. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 20, 2017 at 7:17

Best is to take a look at the lee filter System. Those give you ton of creativity, and flexibility.

That big stopper is awesome! It will burn your wallet though


  • \$\begingroup\$ This doesn't really answer the OP's question. The larger question is "do I need more than one ND filter?", and even though the OP asks "which ones?", the answer of a particular system doesn't address which optical density (i.e., stops) to get, or even whether a simple recommendation to a broad question like that makes sense. \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Feb 18, 2017 at 20:24

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